By: Ed Weaver | NTL Sports | October 20, 2017
The Wellsboro Varsity Boys Soccer team traveled to Athens for their final game of the 2017 regular season on Thursday, October 19.
Both teams came into Thursday night's game undefeated in NTL play. Both teams tied during their first meeting in Wellsboro back on September 5. Athens, however, spoiled the Hornets' chances in winning their first league title since the 2011 season with a 2-0 win with two second half goals.
"It was great to play another very good team and have a competitive game," said head coach John Shaffer. "We'll take a lot of lessons from it. Win or lose we knew we were going to learn things and there's definitely a lot we can grow from. It stinks losing the league title but we have bigger plans. We want to win a district title and we want to make a run in states. We'll grow from this."
Both teams split time in enemy territory in the first half with the Wildcats having a slight advantage in shots, 7-6. After halftime, however, the Wildcats were able to knock the Hornets off their game plan.
Athens turned up the pressure and attacked early and often as the second half started. That attack-based play eventually caused a Hornet foul giving the Wildcats' Luke Arnold a free kick from just outside the penalty box. Arnold's kick went just over the head of junior Nate Redell and into the back of the net to put the Wildcats up 1-0 with 37:54 remianing.
"They put us under pressure and we didn't stay on the ball enough," continued Shaffer. "Once we were chasing the game we got stretched. Giving up that early goal hurt us."
While the Wildcats spent the majority of the second half in Wellsboro territory, Redell came up with save after save to keep the Hornets in it. Wellsboro adjusted their lineup midway through the half to give the Wildcats a different look and put more attacking pressure on the Wildcat defense.
In turn, that put Wellsboro out of order and led to another Athens goal, again by Arnold, with 6:14 remaining to ice it.
Athens took 19 shots on goal, while holding the Hornets' to a season-low 9. Wellsboro had a slight 5-3 edge in corner kicks and Redell made 12 saves.
In the JV game, Wellsboro shutout the Wildcats 4-0 to finish their season 10-1 under coach Todd Fitch. Sophomore Conrad Becker scored a pair of goals, freshman Joseph Grab and sophomore Austin Richards scored. Grab and sophomore Will Poirier provided assists.
The loss drops the Varsity team's record to 16-1-1 (12-1-1 NTL). The team will be off until the start of District IV Class A playoffs.